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Defeated Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart returns to SFU with a promotion

The one-term former mayor of Vancouver has returned to Simon Fraser University, three months after losing the mayoral race to Ken Sim.
Former Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. Photo supplied

The one-term former mayor of Vancouver has returned to Simon Fraser University, three months after losing the mayoral race to Ken Sim.

Kennedy Stewart announced Monday on Twitter that he has become the new director of the Centre for Public Policy Research and has a book deal based on his four years at city hall, from 2018 to 2022. Stewart had shut down his Twitter account in November, after losing to Sim of ABC Vancouver.

Stewart was an associate professor when he took a leave of absence in 2011 to become the NDP member of Parliament for Burnaby-Douglas. He was re-elected in Burnaby South in 2015 and then quit to run for mayor of Vancouver in 2018.

The university’s announcement of his new position touted Stewart’s historical opposition to the Trans Mountain Pipeline, and his leadership of the campaign to bring electronic petitions to the House of Commons. It did not mention his $500 contempt of court fine for violating the protest injunction in 2018 or the broken campaign promise in 2018 to bring a similar electronic petition system to Vancouver city hall.

“As mayor, Stewart led an organization with a $1.7 billion operating budget through the COVID-19 pandemic, moved forward reconciliation efforts, secured over $1 billion in social housing investment, oversaw the adoption of the Broadway Plan, and led the push to decriminalize drugs in British Columbia,” said the news release.

Stewart became the 40th mayor of Vancouver, narrowly defeating then NPA candidate Sim in 2018 to succeed Vision Vancouver’s thrice-elected Gregor Robertson.

Stewart lost Oct. 15 to Sim by 36,139 votes, becoming the first incumbent voted out of office since Mike Harcourt defeated Jack Volrich in 1980. Sim’s new party won a supermajority on city council and park board, promising to hire more police officers, restore public safety in Chinatown and approve more housing.

Stewart was originally elected in 2018 as an independent backed by the Vancouver and District Labour Council. In 2022, he formed a party called Forward Together and ran a slate of six council candidates under the banner, including his wife, Douglas College political science professor Jeanette Ashe, press secretary Alvin Singh and Premier David Eby’s riding office manager Dulcy Anderson. Anderson came closest to being elected, falling 3,285 votes shy of Green incumbent Pete Fry for the 10th seat on council.

Stewart also announced Monday that his next book is due for publication later this year, Decrim: How We Decriminalized Drugs in British Columbia, through Douglas and McIntyre.

Stewart’s previous title for the publisher was a co-editing project with Conservative MP Michael Chong and former Liberal MP Scott Simms called Turning Parliament Inside Out: Practical Ideas for Reforming Canada’s Democracy.

“Everything started for me while I was a graduate student at SFU in the 1990s, so I am excited to return and lead the Centre for Public Policy Research,” said Stewart in the news release. “SFU is an amazing place to learn and innovate and I hope the practical experience I’ve gained from a decade in politics will add to the incredible environment at one of Canada’s top universities.”